Table of Contents

HK J Paediatr (New Series)
Vol 13. No. 2, 2008

HK J Paediatr (New Series) 2008;13:90-98

Original Article

Towards Early Identification of Dyslexia in Chinese Preschool Children: A Study on Reading and Cognitive Profile in Children with Genetic Risk of Dyslexia in Hong Kong

FWF Lam, C McBride-Chang, CCC Lam, SWL Wong, Y Chow, S Doo


Dyslexia is a common developmental condition of neurobiological basis. It has profound implications for the psychosocial development and academic achievement of affected individuals. Its prevalence is around 10% across nations and is higher in the population with family history of dyslexia. Recent studies have demonstrated that intervention is effective and that prevention of reading failure is possible if preschool children at risk of dyslexia are identified and offered timely and evidence-based training. Objective: To examine the discriminative cognitive measures that might distinguish Chinese preschool children at genetic risk of dyslexia from their typically developing peers; to examine how these abilities correlate with reading in Chinese and with literacy related skills in English. Methods: Eighty younger siblings of children diagnosed with dyslexia were tested on Chinese word recognition, English letter naming, nonverbal IQ and a constellation of cognitive tasks tapping phonological awareness, automaticity, visual-spatial skills and morphological awareness. Controls were typically developing children with no such risk factors and were matched by age, IQ, and parents' education. Results: Compared to controls, at-risk group performed significantly worse in Chinese word recognition and English letter naming. The at-risk group also performed significantly worse in visual-spatial skills, rapid number naming and morphological awareness. Chinese word recognition was found to be significantly correlated with all cognitive measures studied. English letter naming was most strongly correlated with rapid number naming. Conclusion: We demonstrated that early literacy related skills of children with genetic risk of dyslexia were significantly weaker than their typically developing peers. We identified the cognitive measures that discriminated the two groups as early as five-year-old. Further follow-up study on reading performance of our cohorts when they reach their school age will be crucial to validate our present findings and to justify the construction of an assessment tool for early identification of at-risk children.

Keyword : Chinese preschool children; Cognitive measures; Dyslexia; Genetic risk

Abstract in Chinese


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